Presidential Debate Pits Economy Against Environment
During last Wednesday night's presidential debate, President Obama and Governor Romney discussed jobs, the economy, health care, and regulation. Yet the only mention of the environment was from Romney, who pledged to open up public lands to drilling, extend the tar sands pipeline into the U.S., and befriend coal companies—all to create jobs and grow the economy.
But Pavan Sukhdev, leader of the UNEP Green Economy Initiative and former banker at Deutsche Bank, has a different vision. He argues that, long-term, corporations will only be able to grow the economy and create jobs if they change their approach to consuming the natural resources that industry needs.
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In his new book and campaign CORPORATION 2020 (Island Press), he contends that business is in fact neglecting its own long-term future by ignoring the risks that pollution, climate change, water scarcity, marine resource depletion, and other environmental concerns pose to business's bottom line. Moreover, he shows how corporations' contribution of 75% of GDP uniquely positions them to steer natural resource management in the right direction.
Sukhdev explains that corporations can do this through a new framework that changes the way corporations operate and turns our current brown economy into a green one. That framework consists of four crucial reforms:
– Disclosure of externalities, so that the many effects of business on the planet, like greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater usage, and pollution, are accounted for.
–Resource taxation, so natural resources are taxed at extraction rather than the point of sale.
–Accountable advertising, so ads inform consumers more responsibly about product characteristics like lifespan, country of origin, and disposal procedure.
–Limiting leverage, so governments step in to limit the financial risk corporations are allowed to carry and thus reduce the consequences society bears.
As Founder-CEO of environmental consulting firm GIST, Sukhdev has already talked to companies like Puma, Infosys, and Patagonia, which are making these changes and seeing increased profits. He argues that, with this new framework, other corporations can do the same while increasing human well-being and social equity. They can decrease environmental destruction and ecological losses while kick-starting the economy, growing jobs, and increasing the bottom line.
SOURCE Island Press
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly